Congratulations to Ignas Brazdeikis for your selection to the Canadian National Cadet Team! Good luck representing Canada at the U16 FIBA Americas tournament June 10-14 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
Oakville Beaver – ARTICLE
By Jon Kuiperij
Asked what his goal is as a basketball player, Ignas Brazdeikis quickly makes it clear that he’s shooting high.
“I want to make the NBA, of course,” says the 16-year-old Oakville resident.
Lofty ambitions, to be sure. But when Brazdeikis says it so matter-of-factly, it’s difficult to roll your eyes.
“The sky is the limit for him. When he says NBA, I don’t think he’s far off,” says his Holy Trinity high school coach, Andrew Saulez, noting Brazdeikis was the first-ever Grade 9 student to play for the Trinity senior team. “He’s always in the gym. His work ethic is unbelievable. He plays on a high-level team (Brampton-based CIA Bounce), goes and trains on his own, trains fitness-wise.
“He reminds me of (Nik) Stauskas (the Mississauga native now playing for the Sacramento Kings). Stauskas was such a hard worker… (Brazdeikis’s) athleticism is improving, which is what Stauskas’s did, and he’s got size.”
Apparently, Canada Basketball is also high on Brazdeikis, a Lithuanian-born guard/forward whose family moved to Oakville five years ago after stops in Chicago and Etobicoke.
Brazdeikis was one of 12 players named to the Canadian Cadet men’s team Monday following a four-day camp at Humber College’s north campus last weekend. Athletes were identified throughout the year in a series of identification camps and recommendations from provincial/territorial organizations.
The Cadet squad will represent Canada — which is currently ranked third in the world in the FIBA men’s age group rankings — at the U16 FIBA Americas tournament June 10-14 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
“It’s been a long process,” says Brazdeikis, who has been on the national team radar since he attended a junior academy for elite talent in Grade 8. “I think they know me, how I play.”
How he plays, Saulez says, is as a scoring threat both in the post and on the perimeter. The Trinity coach also praises Brazdeikis’s rebounding abilities and notes the teen’s defensive game has made great strides recently as well.
“We’re more proud of him than anything. I knew he had a chance… You just hoped he played up to his abilities and showed what he can do, and also that he was the right fit for the team,” says Saulez, who Brazdeikis texted with the news immediately after finding out he made the Cadet club.
“It’s nice when they get rewarded, when the kid works that hard.”
Brampton’s Keshaun Saunders, a teammate of Brazdeikis with the Oakville Venom and CIA Bounce, was named as one of two alternates on the Cadet team, which also includes Burlington’s Simisola Shittu.